Am I A Coward For Quitting My Anti-Bully Campaign?
“Baa Baa Bleat Bleat, have you any bile?
Yes Sir, yes Sir, we spread it all the while.
We take a lie from our Master, push it far and wide,
And wash away the truth with the outgoing tide.
Lies and hate we spread ‘til our victims fill with dread,
We care not a jot that justice shall be dead.”
Pretty, isn’t it – the Twitter bully’s national anthem?
Online bullying is every bit as powerful as physical bullying, and its consequences are just as terrifying. The problem is that people on Twitter and Facebook can hide behind anonymity – these keyboard bullies know that it’ll take a lot of cyber detecting to find the stone they crawl under.
Most online bullying, stalking and harassment begins with the perpetrator taking those lies from their Master – whatever they conceive that Master to be, whether it’s an external influence or their own internal demons urging them on, and then wreaking havoc upon innocent people’s lives.
Online bullies cause stress and intense mental pain – sometimes to the degree that victims resort to self-harm, feel the need to quit social media, and in extreme cases have even committed suicide.
During my five years on Twitter I’ve seen it all, and it sickens me to my very core. Instances range from petty squabbles and misunderstandings, and nasty and hurtful comments about people’s physical appearance or mental state, right through to the heights of national politics.
Around two years ago I began an anti-bully campaign on Twitter, and set up a List of like-minded individuals. I offered a Twitter-based sympathetic ear to victims of online bullying, simply directing them to appropriate official bodies where professionally trained counsellors could help them.
Often, the people I helped had no idea where to turn, and were extremely grateful that I could reassure them, and point them in the right direction.
However, a number of Twitter users took exception to this, and began to discredit my unofficial work in this field. In the middle of what I personally felt was a particularly nasty stream of tweets about me, I was tweeted by a user who had approached me previously about an unrelated matter involving one of them. He quizzed me closely about what I said to victims of cyber bullying who approached me. The conversation ended with him saying he was satisfied that I was not doing anything illegal. Well, of course, I wasn’t. All I was doing was reassuring them that they didn’t have to deal with it alone, and giving them details of appropriate organisations who could offer them professional guidance if they wished.
But that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt enough was enough, and I abandoned the campaign. There followed a number of tweets saying I had quit my campaign after being investigated by the police. It transpired the person tweeting me was a police officer, even though he did not mention it at that time.
As someone who always sees the best in people (as can be verified by many of my 10,000 Twitter followers) I would like to think that those who opposed my anti-bully campaign were not motivated by malice, and that they genuinely believe the claims they make about me.
But whatever drives their actions, the consequences are extremely hurtful. Maybe I was a coward in stopping lending a temporary sympathetic ear to vulnerable victims and guiding them towards professional assistance….but I simply couldn’t take any more.
Life has been a lot calmer and simpler since I quit.
As Stewart’s blog is about Twitter bullying, you may be interested in one of the stories in Thunderlands – called “The Twitter Bully.” He has generously provided a code for my fans and faithful readers to get a free download of Thunderlands in any ereader format. The code is: SW66C and can be used here https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/499287 for a free donwload. It’s valid until September 25th.
Here’s the Thunderlands blurb:
A bolt of lightning. A crack of thunder. The lingering smell of ozone in the highly charged air. And the world has changed forever. Or has it? Maybe the world we knew is still exactly the same, somewhere else. In the precise moment that the thunderbolt boomed, what if a portal had opened up and sucked us through? And we’re now in a different world in a parallel universe.
Even though it looks the same on the surface, there’s just a hint that all may not quite be what it seems beneath. Even the most ordinary things may be just a touch out of kilter. A collection of 17 short stories ranging from the sublime to the unforgivably ridiculous. Powerful, like The Twitter Bully. Puzzling, like A Timely Murder. Horrific, like The Growing Thing. Ridiculous, like Living Proof. Very different, like Ree — The Troll of Dingleay.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Writer: novelist; magazine columnist; public relations. Previous roles include radio newsreader, phone-in host, and presenter. Married to Sue, with two grown-up children, Chris and Charlotte, and a budgie called Alfie. Usually goes barefoot. Lives in Leicestershire, UK.
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All ebooks available here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/StewartJBint